The Maui News - Maui County Council members said June 6 that they passed a "responsible" $549.9 million budget plan for the county. The council trimmed $8.3 million from Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed budget.
"This is a budget that both sides can work with," stated the mayor. "I understand why the council did what they did and can appreciate that they had to make some hard decisions."
The new rates and fees in the budget approved last Wednesday will take effect July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Some bus fares will be increased, with the one-way rate going from $1 to $2. However, the monthly bus pass for seniors (fixed routes only) will go down $5, to $25. A monthly general boarding pass remains the same at $45 for all routes, and students with valid ID will still pay $30 for their monthly passes.
The budget also includes across-the-board hikes in property taxes; the minimum tax will go up from $150 to $250. Also, homeowners will see their rates increase from $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value to $2.75.
A measure previously approved that lowered the home exemption from $300,000 to $200,000 also will affect residents this upcoming fiscal year.
Some water rates also will increase. Customers who use from 15,001 to 35,000 gallons of water will see a 20 cent hike, and those using more than 35,000 gallons per month will see a 60 cent increase.
Other highlights of the budget include $2 million for the Emergency Fund for unanticipated costs from catastrophic events, $1 million for the Economic Development Revolving Fund to allow the county to further aid in its own economic recovery, and more than $30 million for road improvement projects in the county. About $22 million was also included for water treatment plant improvements, wastewater projects and water system improvements.
Council members also more aggressively appropriated funds to start paying down the county's unfunded liabilities, such as healthcare benefits promised to current and retired employees.